Lockheed Martin has partnered with General Motors (GM) to develop a new lunar rover for Nasa’s Artemis lunar landing programme.

The vehicle will transport astronauts to the surface of the Moon and allow them to explore and carry out experiments on the lunar South Pole.

Under the Artemis programme, Nasa plans to return US astronauts to the lunar surface as early as 2024.

In February 2020, the space agency issued a request for information (RFI) seeking industry feedback on advanced commercial technologies and acquisition strategies for a new human-rated, unpressurised (unenclosed) lunar terrain vehicle (LTV).

The Lockheed Martin-led team will use their respective expertise and experience to develop a rover that will support Nasa’s mission.

GM’s autonomous technology will be leveraged to enable the rover to operate safely and efficiently.

Lockheed Martin Space executive vice-president Rick Ambrose said: “This alliance brings together powerhouse innovation from both companies to make a transformative class of vehicles. Surface mobility is critical to enable and sustain long-term exploration of the lunar surface.

“These next-generation rovers will dramatically extend the range of astronauts as they perform high-priority science investigation on the Moon that will ultimately impact humanity’s understanding of our place in the solar system.”

Lockheed Martin has worked on Nasa space projects, including the Orion exploration-class spaceship for Artemis.

GM has also contributed to the development of space capabilities such as the complete Apollo Moon programme and the electric Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle.

Last month, rocket launch company, SpaceX secured a $2.9bn contract to build the spacecraft to carry Nasa astronauts to the Moon.